Rarity Round-up, 23rd to 29th September 2017

A change in the weather from day one this week, with the UK sandwiched between a North Atlantic low and a Scandinavian high, producing southerly and south-easterly winds. The potential was there (and still is) for the appearance of continental migrants and, with hundreds now having been recorded, a Yellow-browed Warbler or two.

With two Dark-bellied Brents flying south from Daventry CP on 26th there is reasonable argument for stating that the first geese of the ‘winter’ have arrived (but it’s probably in poor taste to use the ‘w’ word this early in the year …). Otherwise, scarce wildfowl were restricted to a female Red-crested Pochard at Stanford Res on 29th – a species which has been unusually absent from local water bodies so far this autumn.

Red-crested Pochard, Stanford Res, 29th September 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

No new Great White Egrets appeared this week – the one at Pitsford Res again being joined by the second bird which has been seen intermittently since the early autumn.

Proving to be a juvenile, last week’s Osprey remained in the vicinity of White Mills Marina (Earls Barton GP) on 23rd and 24th, while the only other notable raptor was a Marsh Harrier, which flew south-west over the dam at Boddington Res, late in the afternoon, on 29th.

Juvenile Osprey, White Mills Marina, Earls Barton GP, 24th September 2017 (Leslie Fox)

Aside from a continuing stream of Ringed Plovers, the Pitsford count peaking at twenty-eight on 25th, wader numbers crashed this week.


Stanford’s Black-tailed Godwits were the only birds of note during the period, with seven on 24th, dropping to five by 29th.

Juvenile Black-tailed Godwit, Stanford Res, 24th September 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

Instead, there was rather more gull action, which included a first-winter Little Gull at Ravensthorpe Res on 28th and a first-winter Mediterranean Gull, which was seen at Irthlingborough Lakes & Meadows LNR (Ditchford GP) on 23rd and then at adjacent Stanwick GP the following day. The only Yellow-legged Gulls were a first-winter at Daventry CP on 23rd and up to two at Pitsford between 23rd and 28th while, aside from the loafing adult Caspian Gulls at Hollowell and Naseby Reservoirs all week, two first-winters visited Daventry CP on 23rd and a second-winter was at Pitsford on 28th.

Adult Caspian Gull, Hollowell Res, 23rd September 2017 (Mike Alibone), returning for its third winter at this site.
First-winter Caspian Gull, Daventry CP, 23rd September 2017 (Gary Pullan)

Following last week’s Short-eared Owls at Hollowell and Harrington AF, another was seen flying south, mobbed by corvids, at Burton Wold (Burton Latimer) on 25th. Stonechats continued to be found, with up to two at Hollowell Res all week, two at Stanford Res on 24th and one at Neville’s Lodge (Finedon) on 29th, while Hollowell

Stonechat, Stanford Res, 24th September 2017 (Chris Hubbard)

continued to hang on to its Northern Wheatear until 26th, being joined by a second individual on 24th-25th, and another was at Finedon on 29th. The autumn’s first Rock Pipit was found at Hollowell Res on 25th, remaining there until 27th, while a White Wagtail was at Pitsford Res on 28th.

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